The 20m multistage fitness test is a commonly used maximal running aerobic fitness test. It is also known as the 20 meter shuttle run test, beep or bleep test among others.
Equipment required: Flat, non-slip surface, marking cones, 20m measuring tape, beep test cd, cd player, recording sheets.
Procedure: This test involves continuous running between two lines 20m apart in time to recorded beeps. For this reason the test if also often called the ‘beep’ or ‘bleep’ tests. The test subjects stand behind one of the lines facing the second line, and begin running when instructed by the audio command from cd. The speed at the start is quite slow. The subject continues running between the two lines, turning when signalled by the recorded beeps. After about one minute, a sound indicates an increase in speed, and the beeps will be closer together. This continues each minute (level). If the line is not reached in time for each beep, the subject must run to the line turn and try to catch up with the pace within 2 more ‘beeps’. Also, if the line is reached before the beep sounds, the subject must wait until the beep sounds. The test is stopped if the subject fails to reach the line (within 2 meters) for two consecutive ends. There are several versions of the test, but this commonly used version has an initial running velocity of 8.5 km/hr, which increases by 0.5 km/hr each minute.
Scoring: The athlete's score is the level and number of shuttles (20m) reached before they were unable to keep up with the recording. Record the last level completed (not necessarily the level stopped at).
Reliability: The reliability of the beep test would depend on how strictly the test is run and the practice allowed for the subjects. There are also other factors which can affect performance, which need to be controlled if possible. See point below.
Factors to consider: Although the beep test is primarily a fitness test of the aerobic energy system, there are a range of other factors that can affect performance in the test and are important to consider.
These include: Running efficiency and turning technique, anaerobic capacity, motivation and social dynamics, motor skills and cognitive ability (especially in children), environmental differences, clothing and running , surfaces, test familiarization and instructions and the purpose and context of testing.
Advantages: Large groups can perform this test all at once for minimal costs. Also, the test continues to maximum effort unlike many other tests of endurance capacity.
Disadvantages: Practice and motivation levels can influence the score attained, and the scoring can be subjective. As the test is often conducted outside, the environmental conditions can affect the results.
Other considerations: The recording is available on compact disc with Malayalam narration, which does not require such a stringent calibration, but should also be checked occasionally.